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Text Analytics: Your Customers Are Talking About You

Text Analytics: Your Customers Are Talking About You

When your company's customers talk, do you listen closely and quickly enough? More CIOs are deploying text analytics technology to examine customer comments on websites, surveys and the like.

"I'd consider it complex," Travelocity's Mahl says. "For our purposes, in order to get full value from the application, we will have to train analysts to use the software, invest in tuning the taxonomy to produce more granular analyses and integrate the output...with our enterprise data warehouse so we can use the combined data for even greater customer insight."

Mahl would also like to see Attensity extend its software to include real-time access to additional data sources, such as websites and blogs, both of which would allow Travelocity to monitor even more customer views.

Gaylord's Bodoh notes that many of the text analytics applications that he's examined support only a limited range of analytic topics. "Some would only be able to categorize 40 or 50 problems," he says. "With the categorization model that we have in place, we have over 300 categories."

IT leaders examining these tools should also consider the number of "sentiment" words that an application can recognize, Bodoh warns.

"Clarabridge has the capability to really comprehend what the sentiment is for about 25,000 to 30,000 words, and you can tweak that for your industry," Bodoh notes.

New Frontiers

As a growing number or enterprises adopt text analytics, the technology is likely to migrate into other business applications that brush up against users' thoughts and opinions.

For content management products, Halper notes, text analytics can be a complementary technology; for example, text analytics can help categorize or enrich content, analyze content in a data repository, or improve workflow.

Also, vertical industries, such as the legal industry, are becoming increasingly intrigued by text analytics' ability to add insight to an array of routine business tasks, she says.

Today, many text analytics users believe that the technology provides a useful bridge to help nontechnical staff members get a handle on complex problems without running high-level searches.

"You can have business users who are not analysts really understand 'What are my top 10 problems?' or 'How is this issue trending over time?'" Bodoh says.

The software makes it easier for just about any business to maintain customer service standards while operating at maximum efficiency, Bodoh believes. "Managers don't have to worry about having to do a ton of analytics," he says. "It's very easy for them to understand."

Mahl, meanwhile, says she's satisfied with the results she's seen so far. "Although we are just getting started with the production implementation, we have seen nothing that changes our opinion," she says.

One warning: Do understand that these are often young and complex software packages. If your enterprise plans to evaluate the technology, test it with real consumer data, Mahl advises.

"Go through a thorough analysis of the software and, if possible, a live pilot focused on real business use cases in your company to demonstrate that the software is suitable for the intended use in your environment," Mahl says.

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